So, another Earth Day has come and gone with the usual fanfare.
Twenty some years ago, I put on an Earth Day festival at a local campus to celebrate the 20th year anniversary of the original Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It was quite a celebration and there was much to cheer. Since the original Earth Day, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act all were instituted. We seem to take this for granted now, but at the time they were highly contested and debated. They had a huge impact on the quality of the environment between 1970 and 1990. No one hears of rivers catching on fire any more, although it wasn’t entirely uncommon before that.
So, what has happened since then? Is there anything to cheer since 1990? If you ask me, there is a lot! In 1990, it was still just the environmentalists that were concerned with the environment and our goal was to get the general public to at least consider environmental impact when making decisions. Now, there are recycling programs all over the place. There are numerous land trusts that are protecting habitat. LEED buildings are all the rage. There are not many Platinum versions, but a lot of buildings are at least using some LEED practices.
Marketeers are figuring out all sorts of ways to call something “Green”. You may be a bit cynical about all of the “Green” marketing, but at least it is now considered a positive thing. Marketeers and politicians are famous for following the whims of public opinion, so if advertisements are proud to call something “Green”, that that’s a huge step forward since 1990 in that people generally consider that a good thing.
All in all, I think the goal of making the environment a mainstream concern has been accomplished. So, what’s next?
I think that now, perhaps as a goal for the next twenty years, is for most of the population to actually understand the environmental problems. They are aware of some of the problems and show concern, but now they need to really become environmentally educated. Two of the biggest environmental problems at this point are overpopulation and habitat destruction.
I know that overpopulation has become a taboo subject, but at some point it needs to be discussed. It would be nice if that became an open subject again.
Land trusts are working hard to protect and restore habitat. I think if they can keep up the pace for the next twenty years, we’ll start to reverse the trend of habitat destruction that has been the norm for a long, long time.
Sometimes it seems that things are getting worse, because there are still problems to overcome, but actually things are getting better. If we can just keep the trend going, I think the world will be in good shape.